Best Friends Forever

What does forever mean?

For me, it meant you.

We were so little when we first met. You were confident where I was not. While I wanted to cry in the cubby room because I missed my mother, you didn’t even notice yours had gone. But you came in to get something from your coat pocket and saw me. Alone.

And you smiled and took my hand.

“Hey, do you like dinosaurs?”

Amber Strait.

You had the prettiest name I had ever known. Still to this day, it’s the prettiest I know. We played with the toy dinosaurs and by the time my mom came to pick me up I was crying again, because this time I was being parted from my new friend.

We were rarely apart after that. Whenever I wasn’t sleeping over at your house, you were sleeping over at mine. First, second, third grade we always begged the teacher to make it so the seating chart put us close together. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Fourth, fifth, sixth grade. Finally boys became of interest to us, we were the right age and our moms always encouraged us to go on dates.

I went on one or two, but boys didn’t really mean much to me. Not in the same way our friendship did. But you liked boys. And I liked that you liked boys.

But I knew I was still your best friend.

On the final day of sixth grade, you called me over and showed me something. You’d made us bracelets. Mine was green and pink, my favorite colors. Yours was white and red. It made me think of Christmas, which was your favorite holiday.

You tied it around my wrist and smiled that same smile you always did.

“This means we’re going to be best friends forever. I spent all night making these. I hope you like it. When you look at it… think of me, over the summer?”

I hugged you so tightly I think I almost cut off your breath. I thought about you nearly every day, after all. How could I not think of you when I looked at such a precious gift?

But that was the summer you moved away.

We cried the day you left, hugging each other as I begged you not to go. I pleaded for you to come stay with me, that we could share a room and still be best friends. But you had no choice. You said maybe someday you’ll be back. But my hopes were not high.

Without you in my seventh grade classroom, I was truly alone.

All I needed was a best friend after all. And now that I didn’t have one, I didn’t know what to do.

I wore that bracelet every day, you know? Every day. No matter what I was doing, that small woven bracelet stayed on my wrist. I barely even took it off to sleep, only to shower, so the color would not fade. It had, over the years, as you can tell. I’ve had to use string to lengthen it so it still fits on my wrist. I’ve grown. And so have you.

Without me.

You came back the year after I graduated highschool. I was the wallflower. I wasn’t picked on, but no one approached me. I thought of you every time I went to bed and every time I woke up. Some people call it obsession.

But forever means forever to me.

I saw you, exiting the grocery. You’d changed so much. Gotten taller. Cut your hair. Wore trendy clothing. I nearly dropped my book and ran up to you. But then your friends exited.

You were all laughing and having a good time. They were all as perfect and pretty as you. And when you reached up to cover your mouth because you were laughing so hard, my heart stopped.

You weren’t wearing the bracelet.

Best friends forever… clearly forever didn’t mean as much for you.

So we’re here today. It’s cold, the air is crisp. The sun has not yet risen. This is where we’d used to camp out together. You say you haven’t forgotten me, that you know who I am. Then why is it that when I look in your eyes I see nothing but confusion? You don’t call me by my name. My face isn’t familiar to you? Sure, I’ve gotten older, but I haven’t changed. Not that much.

You forgot me.

But it’s okay. You remember me now.

Forever means forever. And forever to me is an entire lifetime.

So, as I load the gun and press it to my temple, I lean in close to you, so our heads are aligned. I rest my finger on the trigger.

We truly are best friends forever.

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